India’s PM Modi and Duterte discuss steps to fight COVID-19

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President Rodrigo Duterte and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday had discussed steps being taken by both countries to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Modi tweeted on Tuesday evening that he had a “useful exchange” with Duterte about COVID-19 and other matters.

“Had a useful exchange with President Rodrigo Duterte about COVID-19 and other issues. I thanked him for taking care of the Indian community in the Philippines,” said Modi.

“India and the Philippines will cooperate to reduce the health and economic impact of the pandemic, and to give shape to our common vision for the Indo-Pacific region,” Modi said.

No Filipino has been infected with COVID-19 in India, which has the highest number of cases (over 276,000) in Asia, according to Ambassador Ramon Bagatsing Jr. last week.

The prime minister assured Duterte of New Delhi’s commitment in the fight against the disease, which has killed at least 1,000 people in the Philippines, the Indian embassy said in a statement.

Modi said that India’s “well-established capacity for manufacturing affordable pharmaceutical products, including for an eventual vaccine once it is found, would continue to be deployed for the benefit of [the] entire humanity,” according to the embassy.

“Both leaders expressed appreciation for the cooperation extended to ensure the welfare of their citizens in each other’s territories, as also for their repatriation home, during the ongoing health crisis,” the embassy said.

“The Philippine President also appreciated the steps taken by India to maintain supply of essential pharmaceutical products to the Philippines,” said the embassy.

Duterte and Modi also expressed satisfaction with the progress regarding all aspects of the bilateral relationship, including defense cooperation.

“[The] Prime Minister emphasized that India sees the Philippines as a vital partner in the Indo-Pacific Region,” the embassy said.

Aside from Modi, Duterte also had a telephone conversation with Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc about the pandemic and other issues on May 26./Stacy Ang

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